YouTube is a great tool that can help people to get information, knowledge, and entertainment on the same media platform. YouTube content can create high social and mental influence on users. Most of the content being uploaded is by individuals like vloggers and only some of it is by corporations. So, the content available has many issues and viewers approach it in both a negative and positive manner. Viewers and bloggers claim that YouTube contains inappropriate content, and this becomes harmful when viewers use the content to spread their extremist ideology and terrorism. But as every coin has two sides, YouTube’s more affirmative because it is the cheapest source of media streaming and has one billion hours of video content being watched every day. It can be considered as a source of employment and its technology attracts audiences to use it and has several features including reporting content uploaded. Modern technology and websites like YouTube can be treated as a boon or curse.
There are several descriptive features of YouTube that make it bad to use. YouTube’s default auto-play feature provides uploads constantly and this makes people hooked. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm keeps providing viewers with videos that are random and could have been uploaded by anyone. Guillaume Chaslot, (an Engineer who worked building the algorithm), speaking at the DisinfoLab Conference in Brussels, “But the problem is that the AI isn’t built to help you get what you want — it’s built to get you addicted to YouTube. Recommendations were designed to waste your time” (Maack). A user search about a topic and YouTube’s algorithm will provide millions of videos related to it. Once a person clicks on one video, it keeps providing a series of videos that are similar to the search criteria and engaging stuff. Everyone can spend hours watching random YouTube videos that are interesting and entertaining, but one of the issues is that it becomes highly addictive for users. Some recommended videos can include content that teaches people how to make bombs and learn to use a gun and these obnoxious videos are extreme and may have abusive content which can be harmful to the mental health of viewers. The algorithm and features have led to a bad social influence on viewers’ mental health and can become one of the factors that help to spread more violence in the world.
One of the major issues with YouTube was that it was being used as a source for the recruitment of prospective terrorists. Many people create vlogs that represent their extremist thoughts and ideas. And these videos are available for everyone to watch and comment on it. These extremist videos have a high influence on the subscribers and can trigger their emotions to commit crimes or terrorize them. “Extremist groups including ISIS use video on YouTube to recruit and radicalize future terrorists” (Snider). ISIS can spread its message to a broader community and promote its ideas. One of the probable ways to generate funds by terrorist organizations for their missions can be done through YouTube. Extremist videos have been proven to be the reason for many terrorist activities that occurred in the world. Access to the content had limited restrictions. Before YouTube Kids, children watched video content the same as adults did. YouTube had millions of inappropriate videos like disturbing cartoon uploads and child abuse uploads which can have a bad influence on kids’ psychological understanding. Kids watching radical content can have a bad influence and may become one of the reasons for school shootings and gun violence in the United States. To prevent controversies about the problem, YouTube created parental control features and manual control to recommendation features. But should set up an algorithm that is more human-operated.
The idea of YouTube came from the founders Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who originally designed a video version of a dating app and later added more features and developed YouTube. Currently, it is a great video hosting website and leading streaming service with approximately a billion users. YouTube has added many features such as mark flag and it is a free app and website, easy to use, and accessible anytime anywhere on any internet device. YouTube has technological advances which result where users can report inappropriate content that they watch, and YouTube can remove those videos from media. Compared to its competitors, YouTube is one of the few websites that share its private user content or policy with U.S. law enforcement. Parents can also control what content their kids can watch on YouTube. To avoid children watching age-inappropriate content, YouTube created a version called YouTube Kids for their experience optimization, where only kids’ age-appropriate videos are uploaded. YouTube has many uploads where I can find a recipe for a dish that I want to learn to cook, maybe need help with fixing the tire of a car and to research and gain information about a topic. People creating videos find it helpful for getting more views and shares by the video quality control feature, live streaming, and sound speed feature on YouTube. These enhancements in technology expand the audience’s watch time making it a user-friendly app and has increased the popularity of YouTube worldwide. But operating such a popular website is hectic and often has issues like delays with streaming and slow uploading speed.
With billions of users, YouTube is having a highly successful business model. It has a high operating cost and generating revenues becomes necessary. YouTube charges a huge amount to let ads from different companies play on its streaming service. YouTube earns its advertising revenue by Google AdSense. These ads are acceptable to viewers but are problematic because there are multiple ads shown while watching videos which becomes a hindrance faced by users. Other positives of YouTube include the YouTube premium service which is a paid service that eliminates all the ads uploaded and user to stream without interference and this strategy helps to generate revenues. YouTube is a great source for advertising and marketing. Many vloggers get paid to represent and promote certain brands and showcase how useful those products are. People can earn a living by uploading videos and gaining subscribers on their channels. By creating a YouTube channel and uploading videos of one’s ideas and life representing themselves and sharing their uploading interesting content can make people famous. Many people can become famous when their videos go viral. Vloggers on YouTube and influencers are popular among the Gen Z generation because of their high social influence. “A YouTube influencer’s assertion about a brand or product could be carefully scrutinized by the viewers who use their abundant experience or knowledge about the brand/product to help them evaluate the credibility of the information. Similarly, to issue involvement, the impact of consumer’s knowledge on one’s evaluation of information credibility is dependent on the quality of the information delivered by the YouTube influencer” (Xiao, Wang, and Olmsted,10). People on YouTube get paid when their uploaded videos have a certain number of views and subscribers on their channel. Influencers and vloggers are considered credible sources and their videos get many views these become a way people generate income from social media platforms. Overall, YouTube is a boon to mankind but the technology has to be used correctly.
Social media platforms are nowadays supporting employment and resulting in the development of society. YouTube solves many modern world problems because it is the best source for face-to-face communication, video streaming has a direct influence on the audience resulting in engaging more viewers to learn about news and current affairs, a source of income for the vlogger community, and an informant for brand advertising. Some illegal content uploads and copyright issues have been unsurpassed problems with the website. But these issues are being reported and solved by the copyright holders. YouTube is a success in creating awareness about ongoing debates and provides uploads of credible critiques on those debates. It a foolproof and is being relished by people of all age groups.
- Pros and Cons of YouTube, https://www.prosancons.com/media/pros-and-cons-of-youtube/, Posted on 30 March 2019. Accessed Date 19 November 2019.
- Netsanity, “The dangers of YouTube and YouTube Kids”. https://netsanity.net/the-dangers-of-youtube-and-youtube-kids/, Posted in April 2019, accessed 19 November 2019.
- CANCEL Oremus Will, “YouTube Is Realizing It May Be Bad For All of Us”, SLATE. https://slate.com/technology/2018/03/youtube-is-only-just-realizing-that-it-might-be-bad-for-all-of-us.html, published 14 March 2018. Accessed 18 November, 2019.
- Snider Mike, “YouTube redirects ISIS recruits to anti-terrorist videos”. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/07/20/youtube-redirects-isis-recruitment-searches-anti-terrorist-videos/497392001/, Published 20 July 2017. Date Accessed 19 November 2019.
- Xiao Min, Wang Rang & Chan-Olmsted Sylvia, “Factors affecting YouTube influencer marketing credibility: a heuristic-systematic model”. (Linked full text)-https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/16522354.2018.1501146, published 30 July 2018. Date accessed 20 November 2019.
- Maack Masson Mark, “‘YouTube recommendations are toxic,’ says dev who worked on the algorithm”. https://thenextweb.com/google/2019/06/14/youtube-recommendations-toxic-algorithm-google-ai/, August 2019. Date accessed 10 December 2019.